FOXBORO, Mass. — Succeeding as an undrafted rookie requires hard work, and Bill Belichick is pleased with the effort he’s seen from Gunner Olszewski this season.
Olszewski, a surprise inclusion on the New England Patriots’ initial 53-man roster, has played in each of the team’s first six games, serving as New England’s primary punt returner and a depth option at wide receiver.
The Patriots have needed to tap into that depth on multiple occasions, most notably in last week’s 35-14 win over the New York Giants. With Phillip Dorsett sidelined for that game and Josh Gordon knocked out late in the first half, Olszewski spent the final two-plus quarters as New England’s No. 3 receiver, logging a career-high 50 offensive snaps and catching two passes on three targets for 34 yards.
“Gunner works really hard,” Belichick said in his Saturday morning news conference at Gillette Stadium. “He gives a lot of effort to do whatever we ask him to do. Whether that’s return kicks, cover kicks, block, catch — he works really hard. He just gives his best all of the time, so you can’t ask for anything more than that. He keeps getting better, so we’ll see where it goes. But, yeah, he’s a good, hard worker.”
Quarterback Tom Brady said he’s “definitely” beginning to gain trust in Olszewski, who played cornerback and returned kicks and punts at Division II Bemidji State before joining the Patriots this spring.
“When you’re young, you gain trust in practice,” Brady said. “And a lot of it’s doing the right thing over and over and over again. Those guys are working at it. They’ve been here a short period of time, so (they) try to get as many reps as you can and talk about things and get coached up. Any young player, they’re trying to earn the trust of the coaches and (other) players every day.”
Olszewski could be pressed into offensive duty again this week, as Gordon is likely to miss Monday night’s game against the New York Jets with knee and ankle injuries. He’ll be the fourth man on the Patriots’ wideout depth chart behind Julian Edelman, Dorsett (who’s expected back in the lineup) and fellow undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images